From Wegmans and Trader Joe's to Williams Sonoma, we've heard a lot of news lately about new retail options planned for Charlottesville and Albemarle County, but is the market as healthy as it may seem? New sales numbers out later this week could help answer that question.
"Retail sales are up. Jobs are up," Charlottesville-Albemarle Chamber of Commerce President Timothy Hulbert said.
The chamber's expected to release new retail sales figures soon, showing growth in central Virginia for the first half of the year. What's more, Hulbert says the region added about 500 new retail jobs in the last year.
Despite that good news, Seminole Square Shopping Center is losing one of their anchor stores at the end of the month. Giant Food is closing because of slow sales. It's a move that caught the center's construction manager David Mitchell a little off guard.
"It's unfortunate, but surprised? I guess you can't be surprised by anything in this business," Mitchell said.
Between the planned Fifth Street Station shopping center across town - including a new Wegmans grocery store - and the Shops at Stonefield just across the street, more than 700,000 square feet of new retail space will open up in the next few years, but Mitchell isn't phased.
"We don't see the competition," Mitchell said. "The tenants that they've announced are not in direct competition with any of our tenants. It's complementary, in our opinion."
Despite some empty store fronts around town, Hulbert says Mitchell should be optimistic.
"There will be some short term decline, but the good news is that retail is a really positive sector in Charlottesville and Albemarle and the long term future of that is going to be good," he said.
Hulbert says those new retail figures could be out as early as Thursday. As for what could go in the space Giant Food will soon vacate, Mitchell says it's too early to tell. He only found out about it two weeks ago.
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Derick Waller joined the NBC 29 news team in August, 2010. Prior to this, Derick graduated with degrees in both broadcast journalism and political science from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond. Email/Follow on Twitter/ Full Story